Supporting our Families
The Wellness Center is Here to Help
Dear Cheder families,
As we are reeling from the unfathomable acts perpetrated against our people, it is important to remind ourselves about our and our children’s wellbeing. With this in mind, I have prepared a list of actionable items you might benefit from. The following information comes from verified, credible sources and is meant as information only. Take what suits your needs, values, or lifestyle, and ignore the rest.
In times of crisis, parents and caregivers play an essential role in helping children cope. They provide a safe shield between children and the scary world around them. Yet in the throes of the unbearable events of the last few days, parents may themselves be in crisis. At such times, anxiety is high and physical stress responses can manifest. Some people will feel increased agitation, and other people may withdraw emotionally. Common reactions are fear, sadness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty focusing. Even though in the US, our trauma is primarily vicarious, we are not immune to such trauma and stress reactions as confusion, painful memories of images you’ve seen, and guilt. You might discover that your relationships are affected – you may have trouble getting along with some people and feel disconnected from others. It’s important to remember that people respond to trauma in a variety of ways, and whatever you are experiencing is likely a normal part of the recovery process.
Please take note of the following actions you can take to improve your rate of healing and be there for your children. At the end of this document, there is a list of resources for further help.
1. Stay self-aware: It is natural to experience a full range of emotions. Recognize your feelings and share them with someone you trust. It is helpful to you and will help you support your children better.
2. Listen to your children: Listen more, talk less. Assure them that their feelings are normal.
3. Limit exposure: obsessing over distressing media coverage can harm mental well-being. Limit your watching of the news and limit your children’s time on social media and news sites. Try not to watch TV or streaming programming pertaining to the situation in Israel when your children are within earshot.
4. Pray: for us Jews, prayer is our strength. HaKol Kol Yakov (even when we are forced to have the hands of Eisav). Share with your children the importance of turning to our Father in Heaven during difficult times.
5. Love: connect with your loved ones in a meaningful way, spend more time at home, and use it to connect with family.
6. Rely on your resources: don’t reinvent the wheel. You already have the people in your life and strategies you’ve relied on in the past that are helpful in times of stress.
7. Patience: be kind and patient with yourself. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass - including your difficult feelings.
8. Take care of your body: eat well, exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and improve your sleep hygiene. Minimize your alcohol and caffeine intake, if only for the next few weeks.
9. Try not to perceive any difficulty with coping as evidence of weakness. This is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of your humanity.
10. Seek additional support: Sometimes the tools you have in your toolbox feel insufficient for effectively managing your stress. Talking to a mental health professional can give you new tools and get you back on track.
Resources for further help:
1. The Wellness Center at the Cheder is ready to step in and assist you and your child with your emotional needs. Please reach out to Motti at firstname.lastname@example.org and encourage your child to talk to the school counselor as needed.
2. Age-appropriate templates for broaching the discussion with your child (from pre-school age to adolescent): email Motti and specify the age of your child to receive the appropriate written material to guide you.
3. Spend time in nature or meditate indoors. You may find Calm.com, Insight Timer app, or Headspace app helpful, especially for bedtime children’s stories.
4. Parents and community members can reach out to Ohel Family Services at 516 659-9420 or email@example.com
5. Ohel’s Teacher Support Helpline is available to offer support for educators and youth support professionals and can be reached at 718-686-3189, or firstname.lastname@example.org
6. If you have English-speaking family members or friends in Israel, Chai LifeLine is offering a 24-Hour crisis hotline: 732-377-5135 or email@example.com
7. A wonderful book in English “Michal asks Ima about Sirens” is available for free as a PDF download (with the author’s permission). It is both a story and a workbook based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Ask Motti for more details.
8. Virtual support group to process feelings of grief, shame, anxiety etc. on Fridays at 4:15 PST firstname.lastname@example.org Note: this is not affiliated with the Wellness Center and is NOT FREE.